2009 was the year for young people in theatre and the arts. A pioneering year that saw the launch of A Night Less Ordinary Scheme, Future Jobs and Find Your Talent all promoting and helping to get young people actively involved with theatre and the arts. However today these outstanding opportunities have had their funding cut and are likely to cease functioning from the governments drastic reshaping to reduce the expenditure within the country.
As an unprecedented supporter of organisations that push to work with Young People in the arts, we are deeply saddened to hear that these schemes are to face the lethal blow that the Government is currently dealing in its extensive cuts. The Arts Council England (ACE) have been forced to make drastic decisions, and whilst all 880 organisations have had to take a 0.5% cut in their ACE funding, some of this seems to have a greater impact on organisations linked extensively with young people.
How will this affect young people?
The cutting of A Night Less Ordinary (ANLO) will see theatres no longer being able to offer free tickets to those people under the age of 26. It will also have an impact on both the National Theatre and Barbican Theatre who have incorporated ANLO into their Entry Pass and FreeB schemes which allow them to give free and discounted tickets to young people.
The greater impact will be essentially a slight decline in the number of young people attending theatre due to the now impending costs. Regardless of discounted tickets for young people, the prospect of a free ticket would be far more appealing than having to pay. ANLO benefited those people that couldn’t afford to attend their local theatre or indeed any theatre.
The purpose of ANLO was to get more young people into theatres and engaging with the vast amount of culture available free of charge. The Department of DCMS has now left a gaping hole by removing the bridge that ANLO allowed access for.
The Future Jobs scheme set up in 2009 allowed for people between the age of 18 and 26 who had been unemployed for more than 6 months to apply for jobs within (amongst others) the creative industries. Theatres and arts organisations were given a grant to cover the cost of hiring an individual or in the creation of new jobs that would given workable skills to young people.
Future Jobs got young people off job seekers allowance, into the creative industry and gave them lifelong transferrable skills to further their careers and engagement of the arts. Sadly, another loss through the cuts by the Government, which will have a direct impact on young people finding a way into the increasingly difficult theatre industry. How does a young person trying to gain experience in the arts survive when the majority of experience led opportunities are unpaid internships?
People off job seekers allowance, into jobs learning transferable skills, to then further their careers and seal their futures. How could this scheme not benefit young people? Cut, Cut, Cut.
Finally we have to turn our attention to Find Your Talent, a scheme run by the Creativity, Culture and Education (CCE) whose other work includes Creative Partnerships. Find Your Talent enables school children and young people to engage and discover the arts. By nurturing the creative talent within these young people they hope to expose what every child/young person has a right to experience: culture, and a rich and diverse culture of that. Creativity that allows for problem solving, self-discipline, teamwork and communication to be nurtured in a creative environment.
The Arts Funding Cuts were always going to be harsh. There is no point in shying away from the fact that savings had to be made, and despite the need and investment that funding the arts can bring, the cuts are only the beginning of what could be a tough year for theatre and the arts. Young people have had it good for the past year, and we certainly hope that those that have been part of the projects or who have lost out from the cuts are going to keep supporting and working with and for young people.
The cuts are affecting us all, but let us not forget that young people are our future, and by cutting valuable resources and through making it increasing difficult for people to engage with the arts, the more we will thirst for culture and be denied it. Let’s hope 2010 offers hope for young people, and that the funding cuts don’t do away with all of young peoples resources.